I recently saw this at the 2008 Palm Springs International Film Festival where it was awarded the New Voices/New Visions festival prize. This is a promising debut from writer/director Ann-Kristin Reyels. Co-written with Marek Helsner, also a newcomer to feature films, this is a story in winter in the remote northern German region of Uckermark. Henrik (Josef Hader) and his 16 year old son Lars (Constantin von Jascheroff) and their two dogs are unwelcome outsiders from Berlin who have settled into the area where Henrik has bought an old farm and has an unrealistic plan of turning his barn into a wedding hotel where people will come to be married and honeymoon. As Christmas approaches it has been arranged for Lars to spend the holiday with his mother Brigitte (Ulrike Krumbiegel) in Berlin until he meets Marie (Luise Berndt) a deaf girl his age who is the daughter of the local pub owner Volker (Heiko Pinkowski). Henrik and Brigitte are separated and a new set of problems arise with Brigitte's sister Jana Judith Engel) and Brigitte's new friend Robert (Marek Harloff) added to the holiday mix. This is an art film filled with metaphorical images and situations that a general audience may find tedious and boring. This would be a perfect film for a film study group or film conversation to compare viewpoints and observations and it probably is a film you need to see twice to better appreciate it. Beautiful photographed in it's stark and silent winter scape by cinematographer Florian Foest and edited by Halina Daugird, both new to feature films. In this film you will find loneliness, isolation, lack of communication, dysfunction, confusion, anger, comedy and love. I'm sure we will see more from filmmaker Reyels. It's a wonderfully strange little film and I would give this an 8.0 out of 10.
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